To give credit where credit is due, visually, the movie is very nice to look at. It’s shot beautiful, and the attention to luxury is entertaining to look at, if a bit on the nose. There were also couple of very clever tricks where the scenery morphs into stock charts that looks good in the big screen, and provides a nice flavor to the story telling. I also liked the music, which I rarely put any attention on.
But when looking at the film as both a sequel and as a story on its own, it’s pretty terrible at both. There are some very major problems with the story itself, because it can’t seem to decide what it wants to be, so you get a terrible family drama core plot (where funnily the daughter feels entirely like a plot device rather than a full fledged character) tied around a pathetic stump of revenge plot that goes nowhere, flavored with some superfluous, soft pillow criticism of Wall Street with no real bite to it.
What can I say about the cast? Michale Douglas feels entire at home in his return as Gekko, and pretty much carries the entire movie with his scenes. Susan Sarandon is okay in her small role, but feel wasted. Liked her accent though. Charlie Sheen’s small cameo was a bit odd, but appropiate. Brolin is OK, but does nothing memorable in his role as the token villain. Shia on the other hand unfortunately once again gives us a lousy performance where you find no reason to like or even care about his character. You could have replaced him with a cardboard cutout and gotten the same result. And to make matters worse, he feels like a slightly dumb, petulant child, who in the end gets rewarded for being stupid with no real consequences.
Speaking of the ending, it stinks. It feels entirely naive and rose tinted, to a point of making you sick. While I can understand wanting to look positively to the future, given the depressive nature of the real life effects of the crash, the ending feels horribly cheap and fake. It feels entire disconnected from the story, and comes off as something nobody from the cast actually deserves. If you are going to make a sequel to Wall Street, one would think you would come up with something better than “and then everybody makes up and live happily ever after.” It just doesn’t work, and you are given no good reason to buy into a lie like that.